Friday, January 25, 2019

You keep using that word "incoherent" ...

Since I have, on occasion over the last many months, criticized the 2017 anti-SLAPP ruling against me, it is only fair that I back this up with actual documentation from the ruling itself, so between now and my appeal on February 12, I plan on posting a small number of blog entries wherein I will establish exactly this. I will attempt to be dispassionate and professional about this, but I suspect I can be forgiven if I let my occasional frustration with the silliness of that ruling seep through every so often. And so, to work.

One of the issues regarding Rebel Media's fundraiser for the Red Cross was whether donors were entitled to charitable tax receipts, and whether or not they would be getting said receipts. First things first -- those donors were not entitled to tax receipts. (This will be the subject of a subsequent blog post, but whether those donors were eligible for tax receipts is a settled issue -- they weren't. Period. End of that discussion.)

During the entirety of the Rebel Media fundraiser during the month of May, 2016, Ezra Levant (and others at Rebel Media) assured one and all that donors would get tax receipts, despite at no time explaining how that could be possible. So that's the first data point to keep in mind -- while Ezra and others were adamant that donors would get receipts, they never explained how that could be accomplished, given that neither Ezra Levant nor Rebel Media was a registered charity with Canada Revenue Agency.

Even as late as June 5, 2016 (after the fundraiser was, in fact, over), Ezra was still insisting that tax receipts would be forthcoming, addressing me by name on Twitter:


Before we go any further, make sure you appreciate the import of that tweet -- Ezra is again claiming that receipts will be delivered, and he is politely asking me to correct the record. And note the date -- June 5.

It was at this point that, in order to resolve this situation one way or the other, I contacted the Red Cross the very next morning (June 6) and asked whether they were going to furnish tax receipts for Rebel Media fundraiser donors. I had contacted them previously to ask that question, but was told that, due to (understandable) privacy regulations, they could not give me that information. This time, however, I persisted, at which point the Red Cross rep admitted that, yes, the Red Cross was capable of issuing receipts to third-party fundraiser donors, as long as all the donor information was provided.

Note well the significance of that phone call -- this was the very first time that I had received official corroboration from the Red Cross that tax receipts were a possibility. During the entire month of May, while Ezra insisted that tax receipts would be issued by the Red Cross, he provided not a single shred of documentation from the Red Cross that they had agreed to do this; it was only after my repeated calls to the Red Cross that, on June 6, they finally broke down and admitted that, yes, tax receipts could be issued, at which point I swung into action.

Pay careful attention to this tweet I published literally after getting off the phone with the Red Cross:


Yes, that would be your humble scribe, publicly "correcting the record" on the morning of June 6, exactly as Ezra asked me to. In case anyone missed that correction, I published a second correction early the next morning -- note the date and time of 4:35 AM, June 7:


So let's recap what's happened up to that point:
  • June 5: Ezra continues to insist that tax receipts are forthcoming, and asks me publicly to correct the record
  • I contact the Red Cross the morning of June 6, whereupon they confirm that, sure, that can be done
  • I publicly correct the record immediately on June 6
  • I publicly correct the record a second time on the morning of June 7
As the kids today say, you won't believe what happened next.

During the afternoon of that very same June 7, I received Ezra's Statement of Claim, suing me for $95,000 for defamation.

Pause and let that sink in.

Having asked me to correct the record on June 5, and after I did exactly what he asked on June 6 and early morning June 7, Ezra sued me later that day on June 7. And while I'm sure you can appreciate the absurdity of that timeline (more on that in a subsequent post), that's not why we're here. No, we're here for something much more bizarre.

It might be tempting to think that perhaps Ezra just didn't see those tweets of mine correcting the record, and sued without being aware of them. That would be a mistake, as Ezra in fact referred explicitly to both of them in his June 7 Statement of Claim:


That's right -- in Ezra's Statement of Claim that I received on the afternoon of June 7, 2016, he refers directly to a tweet of mine correcting the record that was published on the morning of June 7, 2016. Take a minute and think of the frantic timeline required to deliver a Statement of Claim that incorporates information that was published earlier that same day. But that's still not why we're here, so let's continue.

Appreciate first that, in the above snippet from Ezra's Statement of Claim, he clearly and unambiguously admits that I corrected the record. If you don't appreciate that, go back and read it again. Read it as many times as you need to to make sure you see that Ezra is admitting that. And in case you're not convinced, Ezra admits it a second time elsewhere in that same Statement of Claim:


Now, let's recap once again:
  • On June 5, Ezra asks me to correct the record regarding tax receipts
  • On both June 6 and early June 7, after getting credible confirmation from the Red Cross, I do exactly and precisely that
  • During the afternoon of June 7, I receive Ezra's Statement of Claim, wherein he admits (not once but twice) that, yes, I did indeed publicly correct the record regarding tax receipts
And this is (finally) where the silliness comes in, as all of the above was placed in evidence before the motion judge, who nonetheless made the following baffling finding:


You seriously need to take a minute and read that slowly, and appreciate the utter lack of contact with reality that that paragraph represents. It's not just that the motion judge utterly ignored all the evidence placed in front of her but, astonishingly, she made a finding that the plaintiff Ezra Levant was not even asking for. Put another way, Ezra was not even claiming that I never corrected the record, but the motion judge made a finding of that in his favour, anyway. She literally made a finding that neither party had asked for.

SIDE NOTE: It's not enough that the motion judge made that bizarre finding once -- no, she managed to repeat herself twice more in her ruling, making the same unsubstantiated and clearly incorrect finding elsewhere:



There will be more bizarreness in upcoming posts, and if you think the above is just plain weird, you haven't seen anything yet.

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